All you need to know about the 2020-2021 UEFA Champions League!
The pandemic has changed how we live, work and play.
The UEFA Champions League finals for this year are around the corner. By the close of this month, we’ll be witnessing a new team holding the trophy, and the media will be sprawled with pictures of the winning team. After all, UEFA is one of the most high-profile and prestigious competitions fans look forward to.
Founded in 1955 and rebranded in 1992, UCL is also known as the Union of European Football Associations League. It is a group & knockout format football tournament where a total of 79 teams compete to qualify for the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
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A 2020 Final to be Played in 2021
As per the current format, the league always begins with a preliminary round in June, before the Group Stage, which, after the knockout phase proceeds to the final match in May or early June next year. However, the schedule for the start and conclusion of the Champions League needed adjustment due to the ongoing global pandemic situation.
Covid-19 did not cause an extreme delay, but audiences are not allowed for now.
On 20th October 2020, the group stage began and ran till 8th December, last year. After that, the knockout rounds took place on 16th February 2021 and quarter & semi-final fixtures on 14th April and 5th May. We are awaiting the finals, which is will happen on 29th May 2021.
Venue for the final match
After much speculation, UEFA has confirmed that this year’s Championship League’s Final will take place in Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium. Before Covid-19 disruptions, the 2020 finals were also going to be held in this 70,000+ capacity stadium.
After the finals between Liverpool FC and AC Milan in the 2004-2005 league season, this will be the second time that this venue will be hosting the final match of this prestigious tournament.
Following the draws at UEFA Headquarters in Nylon, 32 teams were drawn into eight parts, consisting 4 teams each. The top 2 teams from every collection are qualified for the knockout phase, while the third-best of those teams drop to the Europa League.
Group A and Group G had particularly strong contenders. In the prior, Bayern Munich, defending champions FC, was up against Atletico Madrid (Spanish Giant), Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow and Austrian side RB Salzburg.
In the latter, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo went head-to-head with their FC Barcelona and Juventus FC clubs – and produced one amazing match. Two other teams in the group were Ferencravos of Hungary and Dynamo Kyiv from Ukraine.
Debutant Teams (Group Stage)
In the 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League, a total of four teams made their entrance into the group stage. They are Russian newcomers Krasnodar, Rennes from the French side, Danish League, champions Midtjylland and Turkish League winners Istanbul Basaksehir.
Istanbul Basaksehir could qualify after winning the Turkish Super Liga. Rennes qualified even after placing third in 2019/2020 France Ligue season (which ended prematurely). Krasnodar and Midtjylland, on the other hand, had to pass through the play-offs route for their debut in this year’s Champions League.
Midtjylland, the Danish champions, had to beat Slavia Prague (Czech side) over two legs by 4-1 to make it to this elite European League for the first time. The Russian newcomer Krasnodar, on the other hand, for the first time in their history, defeated PAOK FC 4-2 (the Greek side) and successfully booked their place in the group stage.
Only the Group stage draw was held in RTS Studios (Geneva, Switzerland).
Changes in Substitute Count
Usually, club sides are allowed to make a certain number of substitutes while the match is on. However, this season, the Union of European Football Associations agreed to increase the number of substitutes.
This time, teams were allowed to take the number of players on the team sheet up to 23. Plus, they could make up to 5 substitutions during a match this season.
The Group Stage Official Ball
Kit sponsor Adidas reviled the official ball of UEFA Champions League. The design of the ball gave it a unique textured look, and the multi-color graphics layering offered depth to the ball. It highlights the distinctive symbol of the UEFA league.
Moreover, the ball itself is also unique. Adidas incorporated their performance technology in the making of the ball.
Thanks to the innovative surface texture, it enabled players with increased precision over the ball. The accuracy comes from the ball’s new outer coating that offers better grip and control. Plus, its thermally bonded uniform construction promises ultimate performance.
Top favorites of this season
Team Barcelona has been desperate to win the league trophy. However, the teams on whom fans have banked on throughout the 2020/21 season include Manchester City, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and 2019/20 finalists Paris St. Germain.
Except for the live-audience restrictions for the games, 2020-2021 UEFA remained more or less unhindered. The 2021 finals would be the league’s 29th edition since its rebranding.
While the pandemic has changed things, we expect the UEFA Champions League to go ahead next year as scheduled. Maybe we can have audience next year as well, cheering their players as before. For this year, don’t forget to tune in to the final!